Important news from the Southern Ocean

EsperanzaThe BBC has put one of its correspondents on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza which is tracking the Japanese whaling fleet.

His name? Jonah Fisher.


Sewing a dolly peg lady

dolly peg bagIn recent weeks I have regressed somewhat. About 50 years in fact. I seem to have taken on the guise of a 50s housewife. I create baked goods! I make my own soup! My latest creation is lemon drizzle muffins. Yum! And before that, pea and mint soup. Mmm.

Just goes to show, anyone can cook – as long as you can read a recipe. Thank goodness I learned to read! Thanks teachers and parents!

If I carry on like this though I might turn into one of the devotees of The Brocante Home blog whose readers have “a scrummy house, too much laundry and a child (or two) attached to your ankles”. Here’s a typical extract:

Chop up some old vintage scraps of embroidery and string together some bunting to hang along your washing line. It’s there. You might as well make it pretty. Oh and while we are on the subject keep an eye out for 50’s floral plastic covered hangers to leave swinging on your washing line for drying shirts and blouses without those bothersome peg imprints.

Informative! Inspirational! And – at long last! – a solution to the problem of vintage embroidery scraps clutter.

Oh – and if you want to know what a dolly peg lady is and how to make one, it’s number four on this list. (Surely by number 21 you’d be spouting nonsense like some kind of deranged stencil-the-driveway Martha Stewart…?)

How a good book found me

Strangers in ParadiseThe graphic novel adoration continues.

I just read the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. It’s really very good and you should get it. Or borrow mine.

Warning: extremely geeky sidenote follows.

How I came by this book is a little example of Long Tail economics at work.

A friend I know from years back now lives in Denmark. She found this blog via a link from my MySpace page. Reading my posting about graphic novels, she made a recommendation and I bought the book from Amazon – there’s no way it would be in my local Waterstone’s. Now I’m blogging about it and maybe someone I know will read the book too because they (maybe) trust my opinion.

Let’s face it, how else would someone who doesn’t resemble The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons ever end up coming across something like this?

And hey presto, via the magic of the information superhighway, filters and aggregators, a niche product finds its customer.

Geek-talk over.

Google resorts to toilet humour

toilet paperIs “because it’s too big” a good enough reason to stop using Google?

A slew of new ads from point out that 75% of us in the UK use one search engine. No prizes for guessing who that is.

They are urging people to join their “information revolution” and demand choice in your search options. The welcome message on their microsite is:

“There you are. So, one of our messages got to you. Great!”

Follow us kindred spirit, we are growing in numbers and soon we will all be freeeee..! Now, hold this flashlight and follow me to our HQ, it’s in a secret bunker under Soho Square..stay close, they’ve got spies everywhere..

The TV ads also come across as if they have been filmed in some kind of basement by a group of revolutionaries who have been driven underground. Like the poor, hard-up execs at Ask are fighting the good fight against the terrible oppressors who have a stranglehold on internet search and, therefore, our lives. Huh.

In the meantime, what are the überlords over at Google doing to change their apparent image as the evil dictators of search? Spurred on by April Fool’s Day, they came up with this new product: home wireless that connects via a “fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines.” Beats the carefully orchestrated PR campaign if you Ask me.

Radio obscura

hay.jpegAs well as mad people, a recent daytime discovery of mine has been the joys of radio, particularly Radio 4. It never fails to surprise, veering between the mainstream and the just plain odd. The other day I caught a 20-minute interview with a lady in Wales who, using seaweed, weaves special covers to keep bales of hay dry. Of course, there isn’t much demand for her unique skill these days (since the roof was invented?) but she is paid to keep it going. Who was the person at the BBC who heard about this and thought it would make great radio? Possibly the same person who commissioned all the geology programmes – minute descriptions of the colour, shape and texture of bits of rock is surely not ideal radio matter. Still, it’s the random bits of weirdness that make it great.

At the other end of the spectrum is Pandora Internet Radio. You just type in a song or artist you particularly like, or are in the mood for, and it streams other similar songs. Type in Celine Dion and you’ve created your very own Radio Celine. You can then rate the individual songs it throws up to further refine future selections to your own taste. I just created Radio Barbra Streisand as a joke but am clicking the thumbs up icon on all the songs. This is a little frightening – back to geology.